Here in Ohio, great seafood is hard to come by. In fact, when you find it, it costs more per pound than tenderloin of beef. As I scoured our local market’s seafood department for something good and reasonable, I noticed the woman behind the case putting out some really fresh looking sole. At $18 a pound, it was expensive; but there were even pricier varieties on display.
White fish must be cooked perfectly. Room for error is small. Too raw, and it tastes slimy. Too cooked, and it feels like you are chewing a) paper towel, or b) rubber.
When I got home, I thought about how I would cook the fish and what seasonings I would use. I looked through the cupboard and came upon a container of toasted hazelnuts.
I had toasted those hazelnuts a few months ago, inspired by a dinner that I had in New York with my brother and sister-in-law. We were dining at Marc Forgione, a beautiful, intimate restaurant in lower Manhattan. I ordered the halibut served with “proposal sauce,” sprinkled with toasted hazelnuts. It was fabulous – a dinner to remember. The sauce recipe is quite involved.
Well, you know me – simple is my mantra. I wasn’t going to get into that complicated sauce. I thought that a simple butter sauce with the hazelnuts would be my make-it-at-home compromise.
Not to brag (too much), but the fish dish was delish! And, because I love you, dear readers, I will share.
Filet of Sole With Hazelnut Butter Sauce
3/4-1 lb. filet of sole or other white fish
1/4 c. coarsely chopped, toasted hazelnuts
4 Tbs. butter
sea salt (use a mortar and pestle to finely grind the crystals)
lemon pepper (I bought mine from The Spice House – it’s the best!)
Toast the Hazelnuts
You will probably have to toast your own hazelnuts, unless you can find them at a specialty store. It isn’t hard, but it takes time. To toast: place nuts on a foil lined baking sheet in a 400°F oven. Keep an eye on the nuts, and stir occasionally until they are starting to toast. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Take a clean dishcloth and put some nuts between the cloth. Rub the nuts with the cloth to remove the skin. You won’t get it all off, but this is what makes hazelnuts taste bitter, so the more you can remove, the better.
If not using right away, the toasted nuts can be stored in an airtight container.
Prepare the Fish
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the filet on the sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt, lemon pepper, and dill.
Melt the butter in the microwave, and then add the toasted, chopped nuts to the melted butter. Pour the mixture over the filet. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
That’s it! Super simple, gluten-free, and it looks elegant. I served the fish with wheatberry salad (previous post – but, not gluten-free), wild rice, and a French baguette. My neighbor brought a lovely Pinot Grigio that went with the fish perfectly. Give this one a try, and you won’t be disappointed!
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